The work toward building a local economy for all continues…
Following the General Election the Conservatives are to form a minority government. There is now new uncertainty as to the stability of the new administration and questions as to the extent it will be able to focus on building an economy for everyone. However, whilst national politics and government are important, it’s worth reminding ourselves that the change we need doesn’t begin in Whitehall. It is already and can be accelerated locally.
Brexit and now this general election has revealed a hankering for a different type of politics and the advancement of progressive economic and social change. There are growing non-partisan social movements which embody this. As detailed in our manifesto and actioned through good city economy and community wealth building work, there is a growing plural range of progressive local economics and innovation spanning the country. The task for the next government – if its aspirations for a more inclusive economy are serious – is to recognise this, and create a fertile context for this local action to grow.
Largely absent from the election debate – but central to our local economic future – is the profound shift that is going on in the future of pattern of work. Traditional ideas around business development and growth, which merely shore up the economy of the past, are woefully inadequate in the face of new technology and automation. This technological revolution and acceleration of it, is speeding up the longstanding process, where wealth through employment, is increasing being replaced by wealth through capital return. We have a choice. We can either condemn our local economies to getting fewer jobs and low paid and insecure employment or we can work to ensure that capital return is broadened and deepened, through new forms of ownership (i.e cooperatives) and participation in the economy (i.e community shares).
Furthermore, for decades there has been a pressing need and failure to get to grips with global financialisation (act of making money from money), and how it fuels regional imbalances and inadequately supports our everyday local economies. As detailed in our thoughts on the industrial strategy, the extraction of return on financial investment via property and land speculation, skews investment away from the real economy. In the absence of any government recognition of this, it will be down to local government, Cities, devolved administrations and local stakeholders in place, to go the extra mile, ensuring investment occurs in local economic activity, we build human and social potential, and advance new social/private/public enterprises which lock in wealth and return for local gain.
The election has highlighted a divided country. But it has not revealed a passive one. In this we must capture the energy for progressive change and with national government help or without, build a genuine local economy for all.